Ok, this post is NOT what I thought I was going to write about, but what appears on the page isn’t always how I thought it would go.
Is anyone else out there tired of all the harsh judgments of the world? WHY are we supposed to be so tough and so stoic? This holds true for men especially, but also for women if we are to be taken as seriously as men. I realize that I am somewhat of a blubbering mess these days, and I fully recognize that is NOT really the best thing; however, I would SO much rather people think of me as a mess than ever as mean or hard. To me, being strong is not the same as being tough. I know that I don’t always get things right, but I hope that I can always be strong for those I love. Does it make me a better person to be right? There is A LOT of heartache in this world, so I think being kind might be more important than being right. ?????
I am not at ALL tough. I am soft-hearted; I try my best to give people (even mean ones!) the benefit of a doubt. I cry easily–especially these days. I am a seriously stressed out wife (I’m a widow, but that’s a weird word that I don’t use yet.), mom, daughter, small business owner, friend, past teacher, home remodeler (I know that’s NOT a word, but it IS a stressful job! :)) I ache for those around me who are hurting. I hate seeing others in pain, and it seems there is way more than enough adversity to go around these days.
There are lots of awful things going on in this world. We each have different views on how to solve problems and deal with atrocities. Just because I happen to think that your idea is stupid, I believe that I should be open-minded enough to HEAR you. I should also be kind enough to not try to make you feel stupid or less than me because I disagree. I feel that I should be EXTRA kind and non-judgmental if you are dealing with a problem that I have never experienced or don’t fully understand. How can I know what it’s like to wonder from where my next meal will come? How can I truly know how awful it is to be a victim of physical abuse? How do I know what it’s like to keep going daily with debilitating pain? How do I know how it feels to be YOU? I may not have walked in your shoes, but conversely, you haven’t walked in mine.
Each of us is unique; each of us has value. I may deal with what you would consider a large crisis easily and have a difficult time with something that seems easy to you. I may teach differently or parent differently than you would, but does that make me WRONG? I honestly don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not my place to decide that.
The judgments are everywhere, and often the worst ones are in our own minds. A medical doctor recently told me that when he was young and new in medical practice, he had a total disregard for psychology and therapists as valid medical treatments. After MANY years of practice, this traditional Western doctor now says that most (if not all) people could benefit from counseling sessions for at least part of their lives. I have not seen my therapist for the past couple of months, and boy, do I agree that I could benefit by going back. There is a lot of healing to be found in having someone help you figure out your own thoughts and feelings. I’ve learned a lot about myself and were it not for the fact that remodeling is both time consuming and pricey, I would still be sitting on my therapist’s couch (she actually doesn’t have a couch but two comfy chairs) at least every other week. There are many who would tell me that going to a therapist is stupid or a waste of time and that I am tough enough to figure it out for myself. Thankfully, I know that therapy has helped me and others, so I don’t really care if someone thinks I should be tougher. Why do we feel the need to tell others what is best for them and how they are doing it wrong?
So, that brings me back to judgments. The Bible says that only God who knows each individual’s heart can make the final judgment. Jesus says we should be known for how deeply we love, not for how well we judge. Other world religions say the same; there is a strong agreement among all the major religions that we should look at ourselves before evaluating others. I have friends and acquaintances who are non-Christian. Time and time again I hear from them how Christians are close-minded, hypocritical, and judgmental. This makes me SO sad because I certainly don’t believe it is true of the majority; however, it is often the most intolerant voices that are the loudest, and unfortunately, these are the views that are long remembered despite the good works of many, many others.
There is an element of judgment in all religions as well. There are things that are wrong; there are behaviors that should NOT be tolerated. I’m not trying to say that we should never speak up for our beliefs or for what is clearly right. In fact, I believe that we should probably speak up much more often. However, I also know the old saying, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” truly works. As a teacher, I saw in action the power of words on a child or young adults psyche (both good and bad). The capacity of words to damage or to heal is remarkable despite the bravado trying to convince us that, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me.” Words hurt, my friends. Words can break someone completely especially those that are especially vulnerable and down on themselves. Intolerance seems to be growing in a world that is getting smaller.
Maybe we could try to meet in the middle or even across the line, listen a little more and speak on subjects or situations that we know nothing about a little less, and think about our motives before we act. For what it’s worth, I’d love to see all of us humans stop worrying so much about being right and being in control and focus our attention on doing right and being kind. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong. The last year or so I’ve learned that I am definitely NOT in control, and REALLY, it’s okay to let that go. That’s God’s job anyway, and he’s a heck of a lot better at it than I am!